August 16, 2011
I recently had a tip from someone I know but can only make collect calls to
us from his location.
He calls on average two times a month. This has been going on for
approximately three years.
We belong to AT&T will both local and long distance service. However a
third party billing has always been on the bill each month. AT&T told us
they have no responsibility for these charges and only process the paperwork for
ILD was one of the companies who was the billed on behalf of the third
party. These calls were expensive.
This company changed (I don't remember when) maybe a year or so ago to
Value Added Communication and the third party clearing house billing is Zero
Plus. The average collect call we receive from this person we know is only
allowed 20 minute maximum time. When the bill comes in, the charges per 20
minute call is $26.00. This collect call is from Washington State to California.
We were informed this person read a notice which we have not seen stating
there has been an error in billing and each call will be reduced by
approximately $10.00 for 20 minutes starting with our August 2011 bill. This was
hard to believe so the bill we have now shows exactly that. The same 20 minute
collect calls were just over $15.00 each. It seemed odd a company would reduce a
call by that much.
I called Zero Plus and was told they are a Clearing House and have nothing
to do with the charges even though the bill says if you have and questions
regarding this bill, to call Zero Plus at 888-507-0734. They kept telling me to call the name of
the company listed on the bill for charges called Value Added Comm. I called
800-913-6097 and could only get a
voice recording asking to input my hone number. It then says if your calling
about the collect call from Washington to call our phone provider AT&T. At no
time on this recording could you talk to a live person. It would continue to
tell you to call your phone company and the call would hang up.
I then called A&T 800-288-2020 who told me they could not do anything
about the charges since it was third party billing and to call back the Value
Added Comm. Frustrated I then called the FCC at 800-649-7570 as was told this Value Added company is
"cramming you" but they said it was not in their district and to call the
Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357.
I called them and explained everything. I again was told this was called
"cramming" and they took a complaint report from me but said their not sure how
long this could take. They needed to look for patterns and more complains.
Now I write here in hopes for some help. If their is a class action going
on for this or these companies, I want to be a part of it. At no time when these
collect calls come in does it indicate how much the call will be. We do accept
it because of the importance of this person to us. I never signed or authorized
any other company other then AT&T to handle our long distance and collect
calls. I had been used to seeing this for approximately three years and thought
where this call originates from this was the normal cost of a collect
Now that we were told of this notice posted near the pay phones where the
call is coming from has a disclaimer saying the price will drop by $10.00
because of some error, then we were at the least over charged $240.00
per year on average of two calls per month at $26.00 and now showing
$15.00. I do not think I can get a copy of this paper to see where it came from
but if you can help or tell me what else I can do, it would be
Two Federal agencies used the word "cramming" and as I was explained how it
works, I want to file action on this and hope to get the real actual rates these
calls should have been and get reimbursed the difference for all these years. I
would be glad to release more information on the person we authorize to call us
collect and address if needed but will wait for a reply first.